Friday, June 22, 2007

Eye of the Tiger

So, I got called out by my coach, Panther, yesterday during my 9-mile run workout which by the way included 2 Mesa hill repeats...yes, I said running Mesa repeats.

As you may or may not know, my run is not on par with the other elements in my triathlon bag. And sadly, this is after spending the entire off-season running half marathons and even a PR class. (Imagine what it would be had I NOT done that...yikes.) So yesterday, instead of a bike/run brick, Panther "suggested" I just run the entire time instead. Ok..I get run sucks.

So I dutifully run out to Mesa, up and down a couple times, and then back towards Mangia to meet the cyclists who are getting ready for their run portion of the workout...a 3-miler.

At about mile 2, Panther comes running up next to me in full coach mode. I was chugging along, but fully locked down into my "forever" pace. You know the one where you feel like you can go forever at that pace. I have one for each's a comfort zone I go to when the workout is long, or I'm tired, or its a distance I've never done before. I just hunker down and feel confident that I will finish...eventually.

Panther: "You know what your problem is?"
Dionn: "What?"
Panther: "You don't have the Eye of the Tiger."
Dionn: (inside voice) he calling me out? I'm not a competitor?
Dionn: (outside voice) "Hmm."
Panther: "You have a great base built, but you aren't taking advantage of it...really pushing it to the next level."

Dionn: (inside voice) ... I know I'm not fast...those guys are faster than me...I'm not a fast runner...but I will finish, eventually.... I can't not finish...I'm not a quiter...I can't not finish...ahhh...that's the real issue.

Dionn: (outside voice) "I have F.O.N.F. -- Fear of Not Finishing."
Panther: "You will finish, I don't doubt that. But I'm a firm believer of going really, really, really hard on hard days....and really, really, really easy on easy days. Today is a hard day."

Dionn: "OK"
Panther: "You see Arturo up ahead? I want you to catch him."

Dionn: FONF takes over and says "How much farther do we have left to go?"
Panther: "Just under a mile or so. We're just going to get him a little at a time"
Dionn: D, the competitor takes over and says "OK."
Panther: "Ok..stay with we go."

So Panther picks up the pace and we start gaining some ground on Arturo. I focus on my stride, my breathing...trying to bring it all together and really run...hard. Panther continues with words of encouragement, egging me on, goading me into digging deep. We're getting closer and closer.

Panther: "If we were trying to catch Glenda before the finish line, you're gonna start losing real estate to do it." We pick up the pace.

I hang with Panther as long as I can. Then about 400m until the end, Arturo, Glenda and the pack start pulling away. I know they're about to finish strong. Panther hollers at them to drop the hammer and BOOM...they're hauling ass to the end.

I make it about another 100m or so before I feel like my legs can't go anymore and I tell Panther "I'm done, I'm done!!". He tells me good job, way to push myself -- and the hustles up to the finish himself.

I did a recovery jog for another 100m and then picked up the pace again and tried to finish strong at the end. I was tired, my legs were sore, I was sweaty and I needed about a gallon water to drink. But it felt good. Real good.

Over several beers throughout the evening and on the way home, I thought about the evening's workout. I think I need a mental shift. I believe I have a competitive drive, but the focus has always been on Finishing. So I always want to have enough strength left to finish.

However, I think my issue is that I really don't know how much strength I actually have. I've never not finished, so I don't know where that upper bound really is. It's like testing the tinsel strength of a metal. You keep applying more and more force until it breaks and then you know how much force the metal can take. (or something like that...stay with me...)

I haven't been applying more force. I know that at this level, it is strong enough. But I don't know how much more force it can take. I think there's only one way to find out... keeping going harder and harder. I need to put aside my FONF and test the strength. Push the limits. Go Harder.

I'm on it.

Panther - thanks for the tough's exactly what I need. I love it!!

Camp Punishment - please feel free to call me out, tease, belittle and challenge me to work and work hard!! I'll buy you beers in return.


Shorey said...

I hear ya. I was really pushing myself to stay up there with Glenda, and it was worth it to finally be at the front of the group. Dave said the other day that the training is supposed to be really really hard, so that on race day, we're fully equipped to not only FINISH but to finish strong and have fun. Training = hard; Racing = piece of cake. Good job, D!

Erin said...

It's quite the mental shift to go from "i just need to finish" to "let's really see what I'm capable of." I'm trying to make that shift now, and it's hard and scary. You are an ass-kicker and I have no doubt you are going to see tremendous gains if you push it.

That being said, it was nice running with you for a while! :)

MikeW said...

I love it! Get after it. Run. Run hard. It's what you're out there to do right!? Yeah!

Missychel said...

way to go!!......i bet it made those beers that much better after pushing so hard:)